About two years ago I saw an ad in the local paper about a clinic where you could learn to play pickleball. It, and I mean pickleball-not the clinic, is all the rage in the area where I live so I thought I’d give it a try. At the end of the session, a few of the ladies invited me to play a game or two with them on Friday mornings. I couldn’t often go because of work but after just a few visits, I could clearly see the future.
As the new kid on the block, I was asked a litany of questions the first few times I showed up at the court. I noticed a pattern to the line of questioning I received every time I met someone new. “Where do you live?” was always the first question. It seemed the answer determined your status and eligibility to keep playing on Friday mornings. If I answered the question correctly, the judger would move onto the next, and the next, and the next. If not, she would stop and tell me I was the first to sit out because we had too many players-well, not really, but that sounded pretty good-like something that would happen in high school gym class with Okie.
Anyway, the series of questions was pretty standard so after awhile, I could anticipate the next one. It was like they got together before heading to the courts and practiced what they wanted to ask. There was one question I didn’t particularly like because it made me think something not-so-funny happened on the way to the forum. One of the many little white haired and tanned ladies wearing a Home Depot belt as a ball holder and sporting her shorts inside out would ask, “And what did you do in your former life?” Every time I heard it I would think, “Did something happen? Am I dead? Why are you asking me about my ‘former’ life? This is my former life; the one I’m currently living where I get up, go to work, make dinner, watch TV, go to bed, and fit in a little pickleball every now and again.” And then it dawned on me. That was why every Friday was open for them-none of them worked and from what I could gather, most of them never did because they didn’t have to. Needless to say, I dropped a few pegs on the status board when I said I was still living my former life and so was my husband.
After court adjourned and I was finally allowed to play, we took our places and got down to business. I was there to play. They were there to say they played. While I was new to the game, I knew it was a competition; one team against another and one team would win. But there was no competition. If a player made a good shot, she would apologize; “Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. I just couldn’t help myself.” “Didn’t meant to do that?” I thought, “You’re playing a game and you didn’t mean to score? You were more aggressive with your line of questioning before the game. Stop this southern charm crap that I know is fake and play the frickin game.” But they’d just smile and when tired, call for a break so they could check their iPADs for the latest message.
I quit playing pickleball on Friday mornings. I saw the future and I didn’t like it.